It’s Monday again. Back to work for most, but some of us never really stopped.
When I tell people I’m the Managing Editor for a publisher, it’s hard to define what that means, so I thought I’d give it a shot here. I’m kind of exhausted just thinking about it, so let’s see how I do.
The “editor” part is easy enough to understand. I edit books, working with the authors to get them all bright and shiny and ready for publication, both for my Limitless/Crave authors, and a select group of indie authors.
The “managing” part is much harder to describe. In short, I coordinate with a team of authors, editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers, marketing professionals, and the publisher’s executives to move a book through every step in the process, from submission to release.
Honestly, I wear so many hats that most days I am technically nine feet tall.
My first step every morning is checking email, and what I find there sets the tone for the rest of the day. Email might include:
- Receipt of a manuscript I was expecting for my editing schedule
- Lack of receipt of said manuscript, or an email explaining why I don’t have it and begging for “one more day”
- An author with a happy announcement
- An author upset about something
- An author upset about everything
- Other team members being upset about the upset author
- A long email exchange brainstorming new title ideas for a book or series because the original one sucked
- A completed edit from one of my editors to be sent along to the proofreader
- People inquiring about openings in my editing department…often misspelled and poorly punctuated
- Drafts of cover blurbs to be reviewed/revised, and sent to upper management for approval or rejection
- Exchanges with authors about release dates
- Someone asking the same question I’ve already answered six times, as well as posting the information in one of our author groups
- Messages from the cover artists asking where the hell the blurb is for the current project
- An author announcing they have a great idea for a new series, and should they write it now, before they complete the series in progress? (No.)
- Discovery that a newly-signed manuscript is 340,000 words, roughly four times longer than we’d prefer, followed by convincing an editor to tackle working with the author to divide it into palatable bits
And that’s just for starters.
I check the contract status report. If new books are on there, I have to log them all and start planning their edits, proofs, and creation of their book cover art and blurbs. If the author is new to us, I have to email them a welcome, list of instructions, and an overview of our editing process. I also have to check the budget, because none of this stuff is free.
I check the cover design status sheet. Once a book has a release date set, it needs to go on this sheet, and I send the assignments to the artists, giving them ample time to complete the project.
I cross-check all my spreadsheets. Book log (which has columns for every step in the process), blurb sheet (which shows release date and where we are on the writing of the blurb for the online listings and cover), contract sheet, cover design sheet, budget, release calendar, and my personal calendar. Doing this helps me spot inconsistencies or places I dropped a step along the way.
We have Facebook groups for our authors, promotion, a separate group for the authors with our Crave imprint, a readers’ group for Crave books, a group for the authors in our 13 and Carnival horror anthologies, and a readers’ group for them as well. I need to monitor all these, answer questions, cheer-lead a bit, and occasionally smooth ruffled feathers.
Our anthologies are almost a separate process, and somehow I ended up being primarily in charge of coordinating them. I work with the authors of previous anthologies, our marketing team, and the executive team to decide on a theme for the collection, work out submission, editing, proofing, and release dates, write the call for submissions, receive the submissions as they come in, work with submissions to determine which to include in the anthology, notify the authors (chosen and rejected), add newcomers to the relevant Facebook groups, assemble everything and send to the editor…
Are you tired yet? I am.
I love email and Facebook messages. I’d far rather do all business this way, but our CEO often prefers to call and run through a list of things rather than try to sort through email. Her brain works on approximately 48 tracks at a time at 9000 miles per hour, and shifts direction so suddenly and frequently I have permanent whiplash. There are also a few authors who require lengthy discussions or who comprehend complex conversations better by phone. I do it, but every phone call leaves me dying for a very large adult beverage. (I’m not a phone person. I literally only talk to the husband by phone, and that’s extremely rare, as we usually text.)
Once I’m sure no part of this house of cards is in danger of immediate collapse, I can tackle my own daily editing project. Yes, it’s rare for me not to have an edit on deck. Right now, my first truly open date is in September. I figure out where I need to be in the current edit to remain on track to complete by deadline–because I DO NOT miss deadlines.
While editing, I have to keep an eye on email, because it never, ever stops. With authors all around the world, time zones mean nothing. I used to keep email open all the time, but for my own sanity, I had to start logging out in the evenings, being sure authors know they can reach me by Facebook messages if I’m awake, in case of emergency.
Editorial Assistants Oliver and Mozzie
Don’t forget I work at home, which means occasionally breaking for laundry, unloading the dishwasher, a snack, a shower, letting the dogs in and out and in and out and inandout, feeding the dogs, making dinner, telling the dogs for the billionth time to shut the hell up because the neighbors are actually allowed to enter and leave their own homes, sit on the porch, or drive their vehicles, though they would not be if I had any say in the matter.
Only when email is relatively quiet and I’ve met my editing goal for the day and no dumpster fires are currently in progress can I ease back a bit and do what I do in my off time, which right now is knitting and Netflix. Still, I have to be available for time-sensitive author-wrangling and question-answering, so I use the pause button and stitch markers a lot.
While it can be a bit overwhelming at times, and there’s never a dull moment, I can’t imagine having any other job, unless maybe professional beverage-tester at a beach bar somewhere is an option.
With all this going on, you can probably figure out why I’m unofficially retired from the Author gig and focusing on blogging, though I’m writing a lot more in the blog than I have on novels over the last few years. Which, I think, is how it’s meant to be.